I was deeply moved to read the obituaries of art historian and author Anita Brookner earlier this week. Dr Brookner was teaching at the Courtauld Institute in the mid-1980s and as an undergraduate student there I took her course on eighteenth century French painting. She cut a slightly distanced figure at the time, poised to lead the seminars in her study at the top of a narrow staircase above the Witt Photographic Library in the Courtauld’s Portman Square building. With her bouffant red hair, thick mascara, pressed cashmere sweaters and pencil skirts she appeared like an elegant vision from two decades previously, wreathed in expensive perfume. Continue reading
It was good to attend the Collecting Contemporary event in the University of Edinburgh’s Playfair Library on 16th February 2016 which included a preview of the upcoming Collecting Contemporary website, and coincided with both the inaugural publication of Affiliate’s new imprint and the opening week of British Art Show 8, showing in the adjacent Talbot Rice Gallery, Inverleith House and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Continue reading
Two weeks ago (hot on the heels of Storm Jonas), at a dinner hosted by the University of Edinburgh’s North American Office at the Knickerbocker Club in New York, I was delighted to have the opportunity to share my sense of excitement at the enormous potential and energy which resides in our School at this crucial moment, five years after the merger of the schools of architecture, art and design at the former Edinburgh College of Art and the schools of architecture, history of art and music at the University in 2011. It seems apposite, as spring starts to send out early shoots over the Meadows, to re-boot this blog with some of the good news. Continue reading
Chris Breward, Pat Kirkham, Catherine Whalen, and Jonathan Woodham speaking at the Open University in Milton Keynes. View on Open Arts Archive website
In May I was honoured to be asked to present at the conference ’40 Years On: The Domain of Design History’ at the Open University (OU) in Milton Keynes. The conference celebrated the launch of the pioneering OU programme “History of Architecture and Design 1890-1939”, an authoritative introduction to Modernism presented by Professor Tim Benton.
It was one of the first university courses to subject design and architecture to academic scrutiny in a context that went beyond the art historical. It was also echoed by similar initiatives in art schools around the UK, particularly Middlesex, Brighton, Manchester, Newcastle and the Royal College.
My polemic considered the continuing place of design historical work in our much-altered scholarly environment, and it generated some lively debate!
I was recently honoured to be interviewed by Professor Ulinka Rublack, Fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge and author of the excellent OUP book ‘Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe’.
Ulinka is just preparing a fascinating facsimile of the autobiographical ‘Book of Clothes’ produced by the merchant Matthaus Shwartz in Augsburg during the 1520s. Contemporary artists Maisie Broadhead and Isabella Newell have been commissioned to produce a series of works updating Schwartz’s sartorial reflections to the present and Ulinka asked me to respond to this project and the synergies between masculinity and fashion in the Renaissance and now.